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US: Denial of $350 million aid to Pakistan reality, not a policy

WASHINGTON: US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that his refusal to give certification to Congress that Pakistan was taking action against the Haqqani Network is not a reflection of a new tougher policy against Islamabad, but simply an assessment of the current state of play.

Pentagon spokesman Adam Stump said on Friday that the Trump administration will not provide $350 million in Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan after the US defence secretary said he cannot certify that Islamabad has taken “sufficient actions” against the dreaded Haqqani network.

“This is simply an assessment of the current state of play. It is not a policy. It is a reality. You know, we are just defining the realities,” Mattis told reporters on Friday.

When asked if the withholding of $350 million coalition support funds was part of the Trump administration’s new policy towards Pakistan, he said “No”.

Haqqani terror network

Pakistan-based Haqqani network is blamed for a number of high-profile attacks on US and Western interests in war-torn Afghanistan.

The terror group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.

The United States in 2012 designated the Pakistan-based Haqqani network as a terrorist organization. The year before, US Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, then the top US military officer, caused a stir when he told Congress that the Haqqani network was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

This is for the second consecutive year that the US defence secretary has refused to certify to Congress, as mandated under National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), that Pakistan has taken satisfactory action against the Haqqani network.

Mattis’ predecessor Ashton Carter was the first US defence secretary to refuse that certification.

As a result of the notification by defence secretary Mattis to Congress, the department of defence has reprogrammed remaining Coalition Support Funds, which is $350 million, to other accounts.

Frayed relations

Relations between the two countries have been frayed over the past decade, with US officials frustrated by what they term Pakistan’s unwillingness to act against Islamist groups such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.

President Donald Trump’s administration is exploring potentially hardening its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on militants launching strikes in neighboring Afghanistan.

Possible Trump administration responses being discussed include expanding US drone strikes and perhaps eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.

However, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, said that Islamabad had continued to fight militants.

“It may be noted that the funds in question are a reimbursement of the expenses incurred by Pakistan towards achieving our common objectives in the fight against terrorism, and not an assistance,” Chaudhry said in a statement.

Source : timesofindia

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US: Denial of $350 million aid to Pakistan reality, not a policy


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